We live in a world that often obsesses about the latest fashion trend. Models and actors display top designers’ latest creations in magazines, fashion shows, movies, television and other multi-media venues. A culture of image-making has emerged causing a mass identity crisis for youth and adults alike.
How tragic it is when an individual is shunned because of the clothes they are wearing, yet this happens multiple times a day. While most of our garments are bought on a rack at a local shop, the mass production of clothing is a more recent phenomena. At one time, all clothing was made by hand and tailored to fit an individual’s frame.
Sewing and designing clothes was a skill passed down from generation to generation. Mothers were concerned that their children wore garments suited to their local climate and lovingly designed clothes which fit the environment.
Proverbs 31 gives a detailed description of a virtuous woman who is known by her many good deeds and creative works. This includes making garments for her household and her community. Her fashion statement is as one being clothed in ‘strength and honor’ who designs garments for her whole household as well, articles which can be sold in the open marketplace.
“She is not afraid of snow for her household, For all her household is clothed with scarlet. .. She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies sashes for the merchants” (Proverbs 31: 21, 24).
The First Clothing Designer
When the first man Adam and his wife Eve disobeyed God’s word, they tried to cover up their sin by sewing together some leaves. Basically, one could say that they grabbed the first thing they saw, fig leaves, and pulled them together to hide their shame.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked, and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings” (Genesis 3:7).
Our glorious God had a better and more adequate design in mind. He who had designed mankind and all creation knew that fig leaves would be totally inadequate for the natural elements outside the Garden of Eden. In His grace and mercy, our Heavenly Father looked after his household and presented Adam and Eve with new longer and warmer garments.
“Also for Adam and his wife the LORD God made tunics of skin, and clothed them” (Genesis 3:21).
What a prophetic picture of our God’s loving kindness in clothing us with the garments of salvation and covering us with His robe (tunic) of righteousness (see Isaiah 61:10).
Hand-made with Love
Like the deeds of the virtuous woman of Proverbs 31, the act of the Almighty God in tailoring new clothes for His children is a statement of love. This is no ‘off-the-rack’ rag made in mass quantities but one that uniquely made to fit the child. When a garment is designed with ‘love’ in mind, all who observe it will recognize its’ handcrafted beauty.
The handiwork of Hannah in making her son Samuel, a new coat every year is another prophetic picture of our Heavenly Father’s care for us. As seasons change and we grow into that ‘new man in Christ’, He loving provides us with new garments when we have outgrown the old.
“Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice” (I Samuel 2: 18).
Coat of Many Colors
The Biblical story of Joseph and his ‘coat of many colors’ is so highly recognized that artists have for many generations recreated this event through paintings, children’s story-books, movies and Andrew Lloyd Webber’s famous musical,”Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”.
“Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age. Also he made him a tunic of many colors. But when his brothers saw that their father loved him more than all his brothers, they hated him and could not speak peaceably to him. Now Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brothers; and they hated him even more.” (Genesis 37:3-5).
This scripture indicates that Israel (Jacob), expressed his great love for his favorite son Joseph by making him a ‘coat of many colors’. This unique gift was made by a Father who clearly chose the design, the colors and the time to present it to the son. Presented at the time Joseph was only a teenager this definitely made a ‘statement’ to his older brothers.
Even country-singer Dolly Parton penned a “Coat of Many Colors” song which told of a mother’s love in making a coat from rags for her daughter. This song won multiple music awards and was re-recorded by several top entertainers. Perhaps it was the message of a parent’s love which touched the human soul and made it a popular tune in many nations.
A Coat For Royalty
The Hebrew translation for coat of many colors is ‘kethoneth passim’. Kethoneth’ means a tunic or coat. ‘Passim’ can be translated as colorful, fine woolen, embroidered, with pictures or striped.
It can also mean that the garment was full-length and long sleeved. ‘Kethoneth passim’ was a royal garment which was meant to symbolize Joseph’s stature. Israel’s (Jacob’s) intent was that Joseph should take Reuben’s place as the leader of his brothers and receive the double blessing of the first-born.
In II Samuel, the thirteenth chapter, we are given the story behind the rape of Princess Tamara, one of King David’s daughters. Immediately after the incident, she went mourning the loss of her virginity and “tore her robe of many colors”.
“Now she had on a robe of many colors, for the King’s virgin daughters wore such apparel. And his servant put her out and bolted the door behind her. Then Tamara put ashes on her head, and tore her robe of many colors that was on her, and laid her hand on her head and went away crying bitterly” (II Samuel 13: 18-19).
Psalm 45 is often depicted as a song of love from the Messiah. The Bride of Christ is depicted as one as royalty dressed in glorious raiment.
“The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; Her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colors” (Psalm 45: 13-14a NKJV).
Designed for Diversity
Joseph’s ‘coat of many colors’ indicates a diversity of many things over many facets which is an anointing of multiplication. It is not coincidental that Joseph received this coat after showing obedience to his father, nor that he received prophetic dreams which had implications for the nations.
Today there are people like Joseph who have been received an anointing of increase and have been prepared to preserve life. These are the faithful ones who have learned obedience through the things they have suffered. Like Joseph, they will be used by God in this generation to transfer great storehouses of power and wealth.